New communities initiative
The aim of this project is to understand and to create wellbeing from the perspective of community. In March 2022, the boards of four of the biggest student associations in Leiden, representing some 8000 students, participated in a symposium called ‘Student Wellbeing: what can student associations do?’ Students showed themselves highly motivated to organize something for other students. At the same time, earlier action research shows that students are less likely to take part in wellbeing programs when it involves themselves. This revealed a ‘wellbeing-paradox’, wherein everyone thinks it is important to address the issue, yet various initiatives, including buddy programs, support groups and a meditation intervention from the researchers, did not seem to address something more fundamental at the question of wellbeing. At the symposium, all boards reported 5/5 that they want expertise and tools on the topic of wellbeing. The rationale of the CommWell project, then, is to encourage this student leadership by developing and providing them with tools and expertise in creating healthy communities.
First, a website is established on which the question ‘what is a healthy community’ will be posed. Students, student organizations, administrators and experts are stimulated to contribute their thoughts to this platform and a dialogue is fostered. Second, current trainings on for example addressing loneliness are made available and new trainings are developed. Third, the partners work with communities on a local level through various initiatives such as student ambassadorship, focus groups but also board trainings. Finally, in June, there will be a culminating symposium.
Partners meet four times during the project year in addition to individual meetings where necessary. Partners contribute various things to the project aim. Cologne, a wellbeing office, will make use of student ambassadorship and focus groups. The student center in Leiden will create and maintain the website while using their expertise in board trainings and workshops. Semmelweis will organize the symposium.